– Spring/Summer 2004

Subject Production and Political Art Practice

Marius Babias

Tags: Group Material, Julie Ault

Julie Ault, Power Up: Sister Corita and Donald Moffett, Interlocking, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2000. Courtesy of the artist.

Julie Ault, Power Up: Sister Corita and Donald Moffett, Interlocking, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2000. Courtesy of the artist.


For some time now, the children of second or third generation migrants in cities like Paris, London, Los Angeles or Berlin have been producing new hybrid cultural forms that lend globalisation the kind of friendly, colourful and peaceful face that it desires. In certain ways, this development was reflected in art biennales during the 1990s. Their dramatic rise in that decade meant that these events were redefined as key disciplinary places where contemporary international art developments could be displayed in parallel to the changes in the world market under globalisation. Before Documenta 11, they classically became situations where the 'other' and the 'exotic' were compelled to 'come out' as a gesture of self-assertion, yet were truly there in order to make themselves compliant and easily consumable in a globalised cultural economy. Documenta 11 (2002) represented the most recent crystallisation of a new political understanding of globalism within the postcolonial concept. It concentrated more generally on the socio-cultural and political aspects of the North-South conflict (while completely ignoring the East) but it still hardly avoided the danger that post-colonial art simply satisfies the needs of the global market by producing more and more refined versions of 'other' or 'exotic' worlds and cultures. While the market laws of cultural globalism are always going to be evident in the way these events are structured, we should be vigilant against simply affirming the processes of economic globalisation by dressing it up as a post-colonialism of multiple identities. It is also important to avoid the preconceived judgement that art is simply produced as a reflex or an imagination of these same market forces.

In order to rescue visual art from political

  1. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Rhizom, Berlin: Merve, 1976, p.58

  2. Herbert Marcuse, 'Über den affirmativen Charakter der Kultur', in Kultur und Gesellschaft I, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1965, pp.71-72

  3. Leslie A. Fiedler, 'Cross the border - Close the gap', in Wolfgang Welsch, Wege aus der Moderne. Schlüsseltexte der Postmoderne-Diskussion, Weinheim: VCH, 1988, p.69

  4. Julie Ault, 'Power Up, Reassembled', in Julie Ault and Martin Beck, Critical Condition - Ausgewählte Texte im Dialog, Essen: Kokerei Zollverein Zeitgenössische Kunst und Kritik, 2003, pp.367-75

  5. Günther Jacob, Agit-Pop - Schwarze Musik und weiße Hörer, Berlin: ID Archiv, 1993, p.31

  6. Pierre Bourdieu, Gegenfeuer 2, Konstanz: UVK, 2001, p.36